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Indonesia's $32B Capital Relocation Bets On Gen Z Influencers To Make Smart Forest City Go Viral


Indonesia’s $32B Capital Relocation Bets On Gen Z Influencers To Make “Smart Forest City” Go Viral

As Indonesia prepares to relocate its capital from overcrowded and sinking Jakarta to the new under-construction city of Nusantara on Borneo island, the government employs an unorthodox tactic – relying on social media influencers to promote the project.

According to Rest of World’s reporting, President Joko Widodo recently led a tour of dozens of influencers through the construction site, showing off plans for a grand presidential palace shaped like the mythological Garuda bird. The influencers posted videos highlighting Nusantara’s eco-friendly design with 65% forest cover.

“We hope influencers can participate in disseminating information about Nusantara,” said Usman Kansong from the Communications Ministry. “The goal is to increase public knowledge and create a positive attitude towards moving to the capital.”

Building a new capital from scratch is rare but not unprecedented. Rest of World cites Brazil, which shifted its capital to Brasilia in 1960, and Egypt, which constructed a new administrative center outside Cairo despite economic strains.

According to polls, just over half the Indonesian population supports the relocation, while concerns persist over displacement, environmental damage, and high costs amid sluggish private investment.

“Deforestation is a real issue,” Gadjah Mada University’s Arga Pribadi Imawan told Rest of World. “I’m very doubtful of the ‘smart forest city’ concept. Rebuilding forest can take over a century.”

Enter the influencers who provide a youthful perspective to promote Nusantara. After the presidential tour, posts praising the ambitious vision proliferated across YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

A 16-minute video by actor Baim Wong garnered over 730,000 views, with fans hailing Jokowi as “the greatest president.” Other influencers like Aurélie Moeremans, an environmentalist with 3 million Instagram followers, also shared the experience of meeting Jokowi, though some commenters questioned backing the project given its environmental toll.

For the government, tapping influencers is strategic, ROW states. Over half of Indonesia’s 270 million population is under 40, a lucrative demographic for platforms like Facebook and TikTok, where influencers wield massive followings.

“It’s good to use influencers, especially for the first stage of getting young civil servants to move,” Arga told ROW. “Influencers can change the mindset so people from Java or Jakarta are willing to relocate.”

However, Arga felt some posts seemed “scripted” rather than “pure admiration.” Meanwhile, local influencers like Dian Rana report increasing difficulties accessing the Nusantara site to film progress updates.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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